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Fee-Demo is 100,000% Tax Increase
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 17 September 1999

Here's an interesting statistic straight from the USFS Fee-Demo web site.

"Of every $1 in the federal budget, only .00018 of a penny goes towards the entire Recreation, Heritage, and Wilderness Resources budget for the Forest Service."

In a companion USFS flier titled: "Your Fees at Work" the Forest Service explains the significance of the above quoted statistic... "This means that a person with an annual income of $40,000 pays less than $.03 per year in taxes to recreate on Forest Service lands, nationwide."

Here's one additional important statistic. Between 1993 and 1998, Congress slashed the Recreation, Heritage, and Wilderness Resources budget for the Forest Service by 26%.  This mean that a person with an annual income of $40,000 now saves ALMOST ONE CENT in taxes every year as a result of Congress intentionally starving the USFS recreation budget.

I do not know how you feel, but I'd gladly pay that additional one penny in taxes, especially if it were to save me having to purchase a $3.00  Fee-Demo pass each time I want to set foot on public lands.

And if  I choose to splurge and purchase an annual pass for $30.00, I will be paying the USFS 100,000% as much to fund recreation than I was paying prior to Fee-Demo. (and remember, I'm still paying those taxes... less ONE cent !!!)

I suggest we restore the USFS 1993 budget and I, for one, will gladly pay the required four cents a year in taxes. Heck, I'd be willing to give the USFS a nickel (or a dime or a dollar)  and tell them to: "keep the change."

Fee-Demo is an extraordinarily regressive tax. Worse than this, it is the beginning of  the commercialization and commodification of recreation on America's public lands.


PS.... Personally I think the ".00018 of a penny" number quoted by the USFS is inaccurate. But, that's what the USFS claims and so, I guess, we must believe them. It wouldn't surprise me if they made a mistake with the numbers. They generally do! 

Last Updated ( Monday, 06 November 2006 )
ARC and Slade Gorton value your labor at 50 cents per hour
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 02 September 1999

Slade Gorton and the American Recreation Coalition have struck again!!! Together, they have just introduced proposed legislation called:  "Take Pride in America Volunteer Recognition Act of 1999."

According to ARC: "Senator Gorton was urged to introduce the legislation earlier this year by several organizations representing large numbers of recreationists and conservationists, led by the Good Sam Club, the world's largest organization of RV owners."

The full text can be read HERE , but the following short quote should give you an idea what this is all about.

 "DUTIES- The Program shall (1) establish and maintain a public awareness campaign in cooperation with public and private organizations and individuals"

This initiative is just one more of ARC's attempts to give private organizations a greater say in public lands recreation management. Specifically, it is the Good Sam Club's attempt to gain favor with the USFS so that the US Forest Service will provide enhanced access to primitive campgrounds poorly suited to RVs.

From all indication, the USFS has been eager to oblige the RV lobby. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that RV lobbyists say their member will happily pay $25-35 a night as compared to the much lower amount tent campers have traditionally paid to use those primitive facilities. (see also - http://www.wildwilderness.org/docs/bray.htm )

This volunteer initiative is just another part of ARC's efforts to privatize, commercialize and motorize America's public lands and should be vigorously opposed.


The Future of National Park Fees
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 03 August 1999

Most environmental organizations who oppose Fee-Demo have focused their energies on preventing lands managed by the USFS and other agencies from coming to resemble the commercialized FrontCountry commonly found in our National Parks. Collectively, we have all but ignored the threat of further development of our Parks. Some have even come to accept our National Parks as sacrificial areas or as areas that are unlikely to ever again function as viable ecosystems.

You may be interested to know that Vice President Gore has specifically targeted our National Parks for intensive recreational development in order to take better advantage of their revenue generation potential. This is just a small part of his "ReInvention Program... along with collecting recreation user-fees on all other public lands.

The following excerpt gives a taste of Mr. Gore's management direction for our Parks. The link provided will take you to the full document.

On a different, but closely related point, while National Park status offers reasonable protection from logging, mining and grazing, many of our Parks end up being managed as tourist playgrounds.  With Al Gore's push to fund our Parks and other public lands through recreation fees and tourism development, one must ask:  --"How are we going to protect these lands from the threats associated with Industrial Strength Recreation?" In the 21st century, will designating a threatened area as a "National Park" truly protect it, or will it simply swap one for of exploitation for another?


Utah Sells Skiing
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 24 June 1999

Here's an new article about Utah's current push to market down hill skiing. This effort follows immediately upon the heels of a $600,000 campaign authorized by the USFS to promote the 2002 Winter Olympics (paid for, incidentally, with your tax dollars!)


PS ... what's telling about this article is to see the depths to which ski markets must now compete for their share of a declining number of customers. 

Forest Service Put Focus on Fun During Ski Trips
Written by Scott Silver   
Monday, 31 May 1999

To those following the US Forest Services extraordinary push toward Four Season Mountain Resort Development... here's something of interest.

When you get to the part about the "2002 Planning Team", please note that Ellen Wilson quit her job as VP of the American Recreation Coalition to assume the position of "Environmental Issues Leader" for this USFS committee. Perhaps Wilson thought she could be more productive working inside the Forest Service,  .. or maybe she already knew how much fun it was going to be working for the New Improved Forest Service.


Federal Recreation Areas Offering Online Reservations
Written by Scott Silver   
Monday, 31 May 1999

It just became more convenient to visit your public lands.

No matter which agency is responsible for managing the land, you can now make your reservations at the same convenient web site. Just be sure to have your credit card number ready.

Oh, one other thing. The federal agencies and private recreation interests are already working to create an even more user friendly recreation reservation system. You may soon be able to reserve your recreational services on either PRIVATE LANDS or PUBIC LANDS with just one convenient phone call.

The same companies will, however, be operating all of the facilities and the differences between facilities will be little more than the difference between a McDonalds and a Burger King ....
     ...  or should I say: a KOA and a KOA.


Straight from the horse's mouth
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 07 April 1999

You've heard Wild Wilderness say that fee-demo is but the thin edge of a very thick wedge. You've heard our fears that the American Recreation Coalition seeks to "commercialize, privatize and motorize" recreational opportunities on America's public lands.


The following has been excerpted from: "Public Lands Policies and Predictions: ARC president reviews progress and discusses the future of our national parks, forest and scenic byways." This article was written by Bob Ashley and in May 1998 was published in Motor Home (MH) Magazine, the journal of The Good Sam Club.

Susan Bray, Executive Director of the Good Sam Club, is on the Board of Directors of the American Recreation Coaltion. The Good Sam Clubs itself, is a sustaining member of the American Recreation Coalition.

What you are about to read is not conjecture. It is the voice of ARC President, Derrick Crandall, speaking to a friendly audience. It is ARC's own predictions for the future of America's Public Lands.

Perhaps they didn't expect the public would be listening! Perhaps they didn't even think you'd care.


Last Updated ( Friday, 03 November 2006 )
USFS reveals link between Fee-Demo and Industrial Tourism
Written by Scott Silver   
Saturday, 30 January 1999

The following is a remarkably clear statement by the USFS which connects the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program with their new emphasis upon Industrial Strength Recreation.


May 17-19, 1998

Presentation by: Floyd Thompson,
Program Manager Office of Recreation, Heritage and Wilderness Resources
USDA - Forest Service, Washington Office

Another key impact on tourism is the new Recreation Fee Demonstration Program. Many areas are now charging fees and having those fees returned to the site where collected thanks to this innovative congressional program. Many tourism industries are effected by these in the short term, but long term the fee revenues help to perpetuate the special places and facilities people require to visit these areas. Fee Demo Projects span a wide range of emerging tourism opportunities for National Forests-,

 Heritage Expeditions explores “cultural tourism” models for special intimate adventures to historic sites with experts in the field — funds collected return to help protect these areas.

 Naturewatch tours and interpretive viewing tours are paving the way for new “ecotourism” opportunities on National Forests.

 Special Christmas tree cutting programs show the way in “agritourism” models and ways to return revenues back into conservation efforts.

 Wilderness and River permit use fees provide much needed enhancements for quality on-site educational programs and protection of sensitive areas. These funds help make these areas accesible to the ecotourism visitors, where without them they would be closed for lack of resources to manage use in the area.

 Climbing programs, ORV programs and special horse and mountain bike trails systems are being enhanced and made available through the fee program.
Marketing plans and business plans are now becoming part of the Forest Service lingo. Travel and tourism is being recognized as one of the major benefits of National Forests. Outfitter and Guide service operations and other private concessions are now being seen more as partners in serving our forest visitors. Collaboration with communities to set common visions for tourism potential and development in their areas is now part of the way business is done. Greater interagency efforts are now underway with NRCS, and the Rural Community Assistance Program in several areas around the country to increase joint efforts to support responsible tourism within public lands. The future looks bright for our National Forest’s and the role they can play in providing quality tourism opportunities for centuries to come.

----- end of presentation -----
The Kempthorne Connection
Written by Scott Silver   
Monday, 25 January 1999

The following is a great story article from the Web Site of "ATV Connection".

If you weren't quite convinced that the American Recreation Coalition is really using "user-pay" as part of its strategy to "Motorize America's Public Lands" ..... please read on.
Here is the gist of the article: (Quote follows):

Senator Kempthorne's work in highlighting the NRTF's user-pay status and the need to provide adequate, reliable funds for the program was greeted with enthusiasm by the recreation community.

"The Senator has proven himself a real friend of the recreation community through his advocacy of the National Recreational Trails fund," said Derrick Crandall, Co-Chair of the Coalition for Recreational Trails. "We look forward to working with him to ensure that the program is funded at a level that reflects both its value and its user-pay status."

The Coalition for Recreational Trails, a federation of trail-related organizations, was formed in 1992 to support the implementation and continuation of the National Recreational Trails Fund.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

Isn't "user-pay" swell?


West's Recreation Warning
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 12 November 1998

The LA Times has just published a very important article describing the threats associated with intensively managed public lands recreation and resort development.

The article, which appears below, is titled: "West's Recreation Areas Face Dilemma."

And here's the take home message, in a nutshell.

"The prospect [of Industrial Strength Recreation] poses a major dilemma both for the environmental movement, which has long backed recreation as a more benign use of the land than mining, logging or other traditional activities, and the residents of the communities of the West."


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